ANKENY - In five years, only one team not named Iowa City West has won the boys' team tennis state championship in Class 2A.
The Trojans' daunting tennis legacy only makes the latest opportunity more enticing for Linn-Mar.
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CEDAR RAPIDS — A teammate wanted you to inquire about something with Bobby Hampton.
“Ask him about Showtime,” Dalton Messina of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders said with a sly smile.
OK, Bobby. What’s up with Showtime?
“I don’t know,” Hampton said with a grin. “That’s what they call me. I don’t know why.”
Hampton was ‘Showtime’ Saturday night at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena, scoring a pair of goals, including the game winner with 5:58 left as the Riders overcame Lincoln, 4-3. He took a nifty centering feed from behind the net by Robert Arrak and one-timed a bullet past Lincoln goaltender Cayden Primeau.
The puck went in and out of the top of the net so quickly, most of the fans didn’t realize it was a goal. Hampton and other RoughRiders on the ice did, raising their sticks in the air to celebrate.
The referee went into the penalty box and reviewed tape of the play, eventually confirming the good news. It was ironic, since a previous review in the final minute of the second period went against Hampton and the RoughRiders, a puck ruled to have landed on the goal line but not over it.
“I tried not to think about that,” Hampton said. “It’s in the past. Just keep chipping away. Every shift is a new opportunity to do something. You try and make the most of it.”
Lincoln scored the first goal of the game in the first period on a goal awarded to former Rider Sam Sternschein, in which his shot deflected off a RoughRiders player in front of goalie Zack LaRocque and eked just over the goal line before being swept away. It was still 1-0 headed to the third, with the teams combining for six third-period goals.
“I think our guys have worked their tails off all year,” Riders Coach Mark Carlson said. “The game last night at Omaha, we had to kill a couple of 5-on-3s late. Even though we were down by a number of goals, our guys kept blocking shots and battling. Tonight, for the most part, we followed the game plan. We wanted to get pucks behind their ‘D’ and forecheck them. That was real effective for us. We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times, and our guys know that. But the great thing is we found a way to get past that. Our resilience, our stick-to-it-iveness was awesome. We want to build on this moving forward.”
Justin Cole’s power-play goal less than two minutes into the third tied things for Cedar Rapids (8-33-2-1). Henry Bowlby’s breakaway goal put Lincoln back ahead two minutes later, but Hampton re-tied it a couple of minutes after that with another bullet from the slot, this one into the top left corner of the net.
A power-play goal at 9:40 gave Lincoln a 3-2 lead, but defenseman Jake Johnson’s goal at 12:44 tied it back up, a long shot from just inside the blue line that had eyes and went between Primeau’s pads.
“Our season has been filled with ups and downs,” said Hampton, who has 10 goals since being acquired from the USHL’s Chicago Steel in a trade. “We don’t care what our record is, we go out every night and know that we can compete and beat every team in this league. We try not and let our record get in our mindset. Live in the present and treat every game like a new opportunity.”
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